When I first started learning about the effects of commonly used chemicals in conventional hair care products, I was glad to see that there are many natural products available that use safe, environmentally friendly ingredients that don’t cause health problems. Then I saw the price tags of these products, and compared with the toxic-soup products I was accustomed to purchasing, natural products can be EXPENSIVE!
We can certainly talk about the actual costs of conventional products – the full costs include those that are NOT reflected in the price tag. I’m talking about the environmental costs of using those terrible chemicals and the healthcare costs associated with long-term exposure. You don’t see those costs when you pay $2 for a bottle of shampoo.
But that doesn’t help much when you have a budget that simply does not allow you to spend $21 on a bottle of shampoo.
Let’s talk about ways you can care for your tresses naturally AND save money. These tips will probably even cost you less than the traditional wash-and-style-every-day-with-inexpensive-products routine.
Wash less often.
You probably don’t need to wash your hair every day, or even every other day. I’ve learned that I can easily get away with washing my hair about twice per week, or even every 5 days. Even if I get a little sweaty on a bike ride or walking the girls to preschool, I can give my hair a good rinse with warm water in the shower and be fine.
Many green-living folks are going “no ‘poo”, which means they stop using shampoo completely. This would definitely save you money, but this practice just isn’t for me.
For one, there are certain smells that I MUST wash out of my hair and using baking soda and vinegar just doesn’t do it. I’m talking about those smells that stick to you when you leave a Mexican or Chinese restaurant. Or how about the smell of smoke? Sit around a campfire for a few minutes and your hair just soaks that smell up. That’s true for cigarette smoke also (I am not a smoker, but that doesn’t mean I’m never around people who smoke). Sometimes you’ve really got to just go ahead and use some sort of shampoo to wash your hair.
In addition to that, I recently came across this post by Smithspirations that talks about the potential damage of a baking soda and vinegar hair care routine.
So I’m not saying stop washing altogether. Just wash less often.
I did this slowly by adding one more day to my washing routine; sticking with that for a few weeks until my hair got used to it; then adding another until I got to where I am now. So if you wash every day, go to every other day. At first, your hair will feel greasy quickly; but soon your hair will get used to this routine and won’t get greasy so soon. That’s when you can add another day (in this case, go to every third day). Keep doing this until you are washing your hair just a couple of times a week or less.
Use a dry shampoo.
This goes hand-in-hand with the last tip. If you are feeling a little greasy at the roots, brush in a bit of dry shampoo to get you through to your next wash.
You can find store-bought products or you can make your own. More on that below.
Skip the heat.
Using heat on your hair causes a great deal of damage – which means you’ve got to use more products – which means you’ve got to wash more often. Also, using heat uses electricity, which also has costs associated. Allow your hair to air dry and don’t straighten or curl it with heat.
If you hate going out in public with wet hair (like me), you could change your routine so that you wash your hair at night before bed. If sleeping with wet hair is uncomfortable for you, you can blow dry your hair to about 50% dry and still use LESS heat than if you dried it completely.
There are many techniques for styling hair without heat. Here are a couple of YouTube videos that show how to get curls without a curling iron. These work great with the wash-at-night routine.
Make your own products.
You don’t have to spend tons to get products without harmful ingredients. There are so many recipes floating around for hair care products that use common household ingredients, like honey, olive oil, and vinegar.
Here is a compilation of recipes from The Humbled Homemaker. She shares how you can soften, condition, remove build-up, and add shine all with common household products.
Living Well Spending Less shared a dry shampoo recipe that I’ve been trying out. My hair is very dark, so I’ve had to modify the recipe. After playing with it a bit, I think I’ve got it about right. I’ll share more about that when I’ve used it long enough to know for sure.
Embrace your natural hair type.
The most time, effort, and money spent on hair care is usually in trying to CHANGE your hair – straightening, curling, coloring, etc. You can save time and money and still look beautiful by embracing your natural hair type, even if you currently think your natural hair is awful.
This is where I urge you to ignore the pressures of society and the media to look a certain way! You are beautiful because you are YOU, not because you fit into some mold or manufactured ideal of beauty. Need some inspiration on this? Here you go!
So now that you are ready to embrace your natural hair type, use the internet, or your local library (you might be surprised at the books they have available!) to find what recipes and ingredients work for your hair type. Maybe you have super straight hair that always looks limp, or you have a head full of curls that always look frizzy. There are ways to add volume, moisture, and shine using natural products! Experiment, and remember that you don’t have to waste $21 on a bottle of shampoo that may not work the way you want!
I’ll be honest, before I had kids, I washed, blow-dried, and straightened my naturally wavy hair every day with high-end products that are only available in salons. I always got compliments on my hair and I always felt like my hair was one of my best features.
Having baby number 1, Little Miss S, didn’t change much of anything for me. I did use products with natural ingredients while I was pregnant and breastfeeding, but I spent a lot of money doing so.
Then major changes happened in our house. I quit my job to start my own consulting business and we had another baby (Little Miss K), and that drastically changed our household income and daily routines.
That is what really motivated me to figure out how I could manage my hair naturally, easily, and frugally.
My current hair care routine is to wash twice per week with natural store-bought products, rinse in between washes if necessary, air dry and style without heat. Sometimes I use one of those methods I shared above, or I do a bun or braid or some other style that keeps my long hair pulled back from my face. If I am going out and about without kiddos, I might wear my hair down. I’m still experimenting with homemade products (shampoo, conditioner, etc.). Do you have favorite recipes? Please share below!